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Representative Town Meeting Article: Indigenous Peoples' Day

We hope you enjoy this interview with Rich Holshuh regarding a Representative Town Meeting article advising Brattleboro change to Indigenous Peoples' Day.

What question would you like Brattleboro to vote on?

To simply change the holiday observed on the second Tuesday in October from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Why is this an issue for Brattleboro?

I would like to see Brattleboro lead (in the State, and the country at large) in the small but growing movement to recognize that we owe respect and recognition to all Original People, both here and globally, and to acknowledge that the colonialism brought by Columbus and others of similar motivation was and is not laudable. Further, it is appropriate that a change be instigated here, since Fort Dummer, within the borders of what is now Brattleboro, is the particular site where Indigenous exploitation and marginalization began in the current state of Vermont.

Is there also a larger context for this issue? If so, please explain...

Partly addressed this in the previous answer. Another aspect is timeliness: Native voices and rights are being heard in a larger forum recently, with the Standing Rock activism, and have been given some additional impetus within the social conversations around civil rights in general. Further, we will be taking this same question to the legislature for Statewide action next.

What moved you to gather petition signatures for this?

This was the legally expeditious path, once the Selectboard declined my request to place the question on the Warning under their own action. Also, I knew there would be a strong base of support so the task was achievable, with others lending their assistance. I serve on the VT Commission for Native American Affairs, so this is not only a personal concern but also a part of my service to the Native community.

This is the lower number of petition signatures, which makes it advisory only and not binding. Thoughts?

I looked into the difference between a 5 or 10% signature threshold. The 10% number is required for an ordinance; this question is not of that nature. Further, I was told by the Town Clerk that a voter-approved advisory article has never NOT been adopted - it is effectually binding.

How can people learn more?

There is a great deal of topical material online in web search. Also, I can be contacted!

If someone wanted to help, how could they best get involved?

If someone is a RTM member, vote yes. Or ask your district member to vote yes. When we get this to the state level, ask your representative to support it; Rep. Brian Cina will be introducing a bill to the House within weeks.

Anything else people should know?

This is a relatively simple but symbolic gesture. It is part of raising awareness and setting the stage for more substantive efforts on behalf of the Native community; as an integral part of my own approach in these efforts, I seek to start close to home. Stay tuned to learn more about the missing and hidden heritage of Wantastegok/Brattleboro!

Wliwni - thank you,

Rich Holschuh
Wantastegok, Sokwakik
Brattleboro, VT

Visit Quotidiously and Sokoki Sojourn. Wliwni nid8bak!


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Thank you Chris

I appreciate the chance to give a little background on this upcoming RTM action.

And, I'm really looking forward to sharing further with the community about this area's substantial, rich indigenous heritage in deep time and the resilience and relevance of contemporary Native culture. We are hoping to put together a series of presentations in sundry venues, such as Brooks Library, the Historical Society, the Retreat Farm, media outlets, and public performances. Wlipai8 mziwik - you are all welcome!

Thanks again Chris and iBrattleboro.


Thanks for your work on

Thanks for your work on getting this relatively simple action put in place for a vote. The fact that it has to be put to a vote is, in my opinion, further proof of how out of touch with the residents of this town the Selectboard is. This could have been done in an honorable and uncomplicated manner which,apparently is beyond the realm of how the current SB thinks. I'm so happy that there are several new candidates running for the open SB seats. Maybe new blood will also bring along some common sense. It's long overdue.
I look forward to attending some of the presentations about our Native culture you have planned for the future.


Thanks for bringing this up.

Thanks for bringing this up. Interviews like this about articles on the town meeting agenda really do help to give some context. I touched on this a bit in the issues section of my campaign site, VoteForDavey.com. I fully support this article. Thanks for taking the lead on this and frankly it seems like all Native American issues in town. I've definitely noticed an increase in the conversation and I think that has a lot to do with you speaking up Rich.


We're not the only ones

As Rich pointed out, other places are doing this too. I just noticed that a college I do work for has changed the name of the October holiday in their academic calendar for next year.


None so autochthonous

It makes sense, of course. Most human progress is the result of one group displacing or absorbing another.

Even most descendants of indigenous tribes themselves are but shadows of their former selves, more descended from migrants or colonists than they are from an aboriginal.

In that sense, we are all natives, who beget other natives.


iBrattleboro Poll

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